The final improvements to access at Westfield Pill nature reserve have taken place with great success. Locals to the area are now able to cycle and walk easily through the reserve without stumbling upon potholes and rough, uneven stretches of cycle track.
This work was funded by Pembrokeshire County Council who have worked closely with the Wildlife Trust on all aspects of the project, mitigating for any disturbance that may have been created. As much as the newly laid track looks a little harsh at present, it will soon dull down and fit more comfortably into its surroundings.
Fine scalpings have been laid down on top of the bitumen so as to be more pleasing to the eye and limestone has been spread along parts of the cycle track and elsewhere to encourage species such as grass vetchling and the small blue butterflyto recolonise the site.
Landscaping has also been implemented to better protect Wales’ largest colony of the bastard balm plant and an area of valuable bird nesting habitat has been fenced and gated so as to prevent disturbance from the public.
A meadow has also been created on the old refuse tip which will be managed to encourage wild flowers to grow and provide suitable habitat for a variety of invertebrates. Japanese knotweed has been, and continues to be treated, preventing its spread onto the reserve.
The revamped pathways have allowed visitors, who are less physically able, better access to this special site and encouraged walkers and cyclists to venture further out of Neyland.
We have had a good response from locals although we must still stress the need for dog walkers to keep their pets on a lead or under strict control at all times in order that wildlife is not scared off. As much as the Wildlife Trust actively encourages people into the countryside to gain a better insight into the wildlife that can be found on their doorsteps, the issue of dog fouling is getting worse. Westfield Pill is one of many urban reserves that suffers from this, with most of the dog waste ending up in bags hanging from bushes along the path.
Nathan Walton who manages the reserves says “I shall not go on as I can get quite heated on this subject however I would rather people just flick the mess to the side of the path and into the bushes as opposed to going through the effort of putting it in a bag only to then fling it into the vegetation. None-the-less, we of course welcome responsible dog owners to all our reserves, of which the majority are.”
Plastic left lying around the countryside is not only unsightly but can cause serious harm to wildlife. We recently had an example of a peregrine falcon who had ingested a plastic bag and as a consequence had died.